Marlyse Baptista has been collaborating for several years now with a group of geneticists to trace the African roots of Cape Verdean Creole. Their research is not only delivering new insights into the history of Cape Verdean Creole, but is also breaking new methodological grounds for collaboration across two seemingly very unrelated fields. We hand over to Marlyse now to say more about their exciting project in her own words.

"For the past three years, I have been collaborating with geneticists Noah Rosenberg (Stanford University) and Paul Verdu (CNRS, Paris) on a project entitled Recovering ancestrality in Cape Verde islands, and funded by Rosenberg’s lab. The newer members of the team are geneticists Ethan Jewett (Stanford University) and Trevor Pemberton (University of Manitoba). Cape Verdean Creole is one of the oldest creoles on record; the island of Santiago was settled in 1461 and the island of São Vicente in the second half of the nineteenth century. One of the objectives of the project is to uncover the founding populations of distinct islands in the archipelago. The hope is that more accurate information on the founding populations would lead in turn to a more precise identification of the source languages that contributed to the varieties of creole spoken on various islands. 

This past summer, I conducted fieldwork on the island of São Vicente with Paul Verdu and Ethan Jewett where we collected speech data and DNA samples of 36 Cape Verdeans. This was the team’s third field work trip to Cape Verde. The two previous trips took place on the island of Santiago.

On June 9 2014, Paul Verdu presented the project at the symposium for the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, as one of its plenary speakers. The title of the presentation was: Parallel trajectories of genetic and linguistic admixture in Cape Verdean Kriolu speakers. The co-authors are Ethan Jewett, Trevor Pemberton, Noah Rosenberg and Marlyse Baptista."